I continued along the path beyond William’s Rock. What were these graceful creatures?Since none of the friends or experts I’ve sent photos to have any idea either, until further notice I’m going to call them ‘la Coppia piangente‘ ( lah cope-yuh pyan-jen-tay). The Weeping Couple.
Lately though, I’ve begun to suspect they might be agaves. I’d seen lots of them growing wild around the island.
This fountain was a bit too minimalist for my tastes. But Lady Walton was very fond of it. She loved the way the sky was reflected in the stainless steel base.
Her memorial nearby was a bit of an eyebrow raiser too. But I was intrigued by the reference to Genius loci.
I’d seen genius loci portrayed in a Lararium – shrine to the household gods – in Pompeii.
But what did these guardian spirits of the Ancient Romans have to do with a 20th century garden?
We have to fast forward to the 18th century for the answer. Alexander Pope, concerned that the latest craze in garden design – the formal, highly geometric French garden – threatened to take over the English countryside, wrote a letter – actually, being the poet that he was, he wrote a poem – ‘Epistle IV to Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington’ – in which he reinterpreted genius loci as ‘sense of place’. In it he encouraged the Earl, and with him, presumably all English gardeners, to ‘consult the genius of the place’ when designing their gardens.
Consult the genius of the place in all;
That tells the waters or to rise, or fall;
Or helps th’ ambitious hill the heav’ns to scale,
Or scoops in circling theatres the vale;
Calls in the country, catches opening glades,
Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades,
Now breaks, or now directs, th’ intending lines;
Paints as you plant, and, as you work, designs.
Leaving aside some of the statues, I thought Lady Walton had done a brilliant job of capturing the genius loci of what was once a desolate, rocky hillside.
Close by was a huge clump of Proteus. I only know that it’s a Proteus because a friend from South Africa eventually ID’d it for me. There are so many variations of this plant. No wonder Linnaeus named it after the original Proteus, the Greek god who could change his form at will.
It was as if the entire cycle of life was played out in that clump.
By the time you get to the ‘Crocodile Pond’ you’re almost at the top of the mountain. Whew!
At the top of the mountain is a ‘lake’ made of blue glass pebbles. It was a gift from an American landscape architect, Andy Cao. I wasn’t so sure about the lake and the creatures in it, but I loved the planting around its shores.
It was time to head back down the mountain.
I made my way slowly to the exit.